Essential Questions

How Do You Expand the Audience for Your Work?

Edited by Jane Guthridge

I’m interested in getting your thoughts on how you market your work. If you have gallery representation, do you supplement that with your own marketing? If you do not have gallery representation, how do you market? How do you expand the audience for your work?

Dietlind Vander Schaaf I use my Facebook and Instagram accounts to promote my work. I use MailChimp to send e-blasts that promote exhibitions, workshops, and other news. I’ve written a number of proposals for exhibitions on behalf of New England Wax, and as part of that process I will often install work and design a catalog. I also mail printed postcards.

pwj-issue14-pullquote-winiarski_leftBecause I work at an art school, I am often in a good position to interact with or take advantage of opportunities to leverage myself as an artist. For example, I curate and install the annual staff exhibition at Maine College of Art. That was falling through the cracks before I took it over. I also take a class through Creative Capital once a year to stay up on what other artists are doing and using in terms of self-promotion.

Joanne Mattera Dietlind brings up a good point–the idea of taking on a job that not only provides a service for others but which creates visibility for the artist. That’s a great win/win.

Tracey Adams I do a lot of my own marketing, supplementing whatever the galleries do. I post daily images on Instagram, weekly on Facebook and send a quarterly newsletter. The newsletter links with FB, gallery websites, and my blog.

pwj-issue14-pullquote-wagner_rightI curated a show this year, Burned, Cut, Folded and Stitched. This included writing the exhibition essay and putting together an online catalog through Issu. I’ve taught classes at the Monterey Museum of Art, done demos and talks for docents, and have spoken on panels sponsored by our museum. I’ve produced a catalog either yearly or every other year since 1999. I gift collectors with a copy and split the costs with whatever galleries are featured in the catalog; they gift copies to their best clients, too.

Anna Wagner-Ott I have committed to adding artwork as soon as it is finished and only putting my best works on my website. A website is your artistic identity and so important for marketing.
Additionally, I do post regularly to Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, and keep a blog. These sites represent my identity so I am very conscious about what I post. I try to keep my posts professional so rarely mix personal posts or family photographs with the public/professional posts.

Elise Wagner I never rely solely on galleries to market my work. I always take it into my own hands, especially when I have a show up. I collaborate with my galleries on writing content for my media releases. No one knows your work as well as you do, so it’s important you give the gallery the information they need to sell your work. I devote a lot of time, like most of us, promoting on social media. I post on Instagram daily and vary it with images, videos and works in progress, and I update my site regularly with new work with professionally shot images. The photo shoots are scheduled, which gives me a continual deadline to meet.

I do quarterly newsletters, and my list contains all the galleries I love across the country. I also maintain different targeted lists. After finishing a body of work or having a show, I routinely research galleries in key cities and submit like crazy, 20-25 per targeted city. I also research and set grant deadlines in my calendar, market through my classes, and give gallery talks—never demos—at most shows.

pwj-issue14-pullquote-wagner-ott_leftDavid A. Clark I do a lot of marketing, and now that I have a physical space I do even more. In addition to the galleries I am working with, I send out postcards to galleries I’m targeting, art consultants, designers, and curators about four times a year. I also send out catalogues to folks who may have expressed interest or to people I think may be interested in certain bodies of work. I have done some print advertising. I took out an ad in Art in Print magazine and also a regional arts magazine called Palm Springs Arts Patron Magazine. Those ads have generated a bit of interest and widened the profile of my work.

The complex of spaces that I am in right now has hired a PR person and is doing targeted outreach to local hotel concierges and the board of tourism to generate more traffic. We’ve had some press and that has been good. I am very active on social media. There are quite a few local media outlets checking out my photos on Instagram. So I’m hoping that will generate some additional press. It’s a huge amount of work but it’s finally starting to have some impact.

Deborah Winiarski In addition to postcards, newsletters, networking, and catalogs, I believe it’s important to be proactive in your community—even if you have to create your community. I’m fortunate to be teaching in a renowned institution. When I first began teaching workshops there eight years ago, most people didn’t know what encaustic was, never mind how it’s relevant today. I decided to educate the general population of the institution. I proposed a two-evening event where I demonstrated the medium and invited speakers to talk about the medium in terms of its history and contemporary relevance.

Beverly Rippel Besides posting regularly on Facebook and Instagram, I am part of the Boston Arts District community where I maintain a studio and am always present at Open Studio events. Here I meet artists, writers, curators, editors, and collectors, as well as college art students who are eager to converse. High school art teachers bring students bound for art school into the studio as part of their education. I have handouts with up-to-date images/website/ email that are available for the thousands of people who walk through the building. I do sell my work through this venue.

pwj-issue14-pullquote-mattera_leftAt present I do not have representation, but I have been showing works through corporate exhibition sales and rental programs since the 1990’s with such established [Massachusetts] venues as Springfield Museum of Fine Arts, the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, The Cambridge Art Association, and the Arts and Business Council of Greater Boston. Oftentimes the artist is compensated, the work is seen and insured, and you get the work back after a year to show or rent again. Recently a large painting was sold to the CEO of a law firm who saw the image when selecting work for his offices.

For the past eight years I have been the Chair of Exhibitions for South Shore Art Center, a large venue with educational courses and a gallery. We research museum curators and gallerists to jury our national exhibitions. This volunteer position has been educational, introduced me to great jurors, and continues to widen my vision.

Joanne Mattera I recently prepared for a solo show in Boston. The gallery posted images of my work on its website and produced a beautiful two-sided mailer, which it sent to its client list. I supplemented the gallery’s marketing with posts on my blog and on Facebook to promote the exhibition and then show installation images. I’ll also sent out a newsletter to announce it and the various other exhibitions and openings I have coming up this fall.

Relatedly, I recently completed a second edition of my catalog, Silk Road: Excerpts From an Ongoing Series. It’s got a new cover and numerous new pages to better reflect work that has been or is about to be shown. It is available for viewing online at no cost, so any gallery I work with can send the URL to potential clients as well as to local and regional publications as part of its PR outreach. Serious collectors of my work have been or will be given a copy. Copies will be available for sale to casual visitors to the galleries. Because I don’t do my own graphic design, this is a worthwhile–and deductible–expense for me.

I would note that artists at all levels are involved in promoting their work. Martin Kline, for instance, holds occasional exhibitions in his impressive studio on the grounds of his home in the Hudson Valley. And for the better part of a decade, Jasper Johns has been actively involved with an art historian in producing a multi-volume catalogue raisonné of his oeuvre.

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